Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The Yoko Tsuno adventures have been reprinted out of sequence in this series of English translations as Cinebook has chosen titles by their own evaluation of what is most interesting or appealing to new readers. With The Cannon of Kra, we have caught up to the French releases and this is volume sixteen, following Wotan’s Fire.
Roger Leloup’s heroine Yoko was designed to be a compelling action hero for young readers: a woman competent in all kinds of electrical and mechanical engineering, proficient in hand to hand combat, and able to understand and operate almost all the complex technological machinery she comes across. Her Japanese sense of honour and fairness gives her a humane approach to dangerous situations, preferring to use reason rather than violence. She isn’t perfect, however. She can’t resist a mystery and sometimes her impetuous nature gets her into trouble when she jumps into action without a plan. It’s an excellent combination of traits that makes these books not quite as predictable as the plots might indicate, as Yoko’s personality subverts the standard science fiction action hero template. The delicacy of Leloup’s somewhat romantic drawings of Yoko and the other female characters contrast very well with his detailed drawings of spaceships, aeroplanes, tanks, ships, cars and all the other super technical machinery that is the backdrop for these adventures.
In this volume, there is a great deal of action involving jets and fighters, all expertly drawn and painstakingly accurate from all angles. Yoko has been test flying the glider/jet Hummingbird for two months for a faceless corporate client and is sad to say goodbye to it. However, it turns out she doesn’t have to, because she will be required to fly it for a while longer to investigate just why a small island near Cambodia has acquired both nuclear capability and an enormous cannon which is capable of firing massive calibre missiles into neighbouring countries. The typical mix of high-concept settings and quirky, odd characters makes this another compelling story for young readers to follow with just enough emotion to ground the more fantastic elements in a relatable way. Yoko returns to Vinea in the next entry in this series, The Exiles of Kifa.